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British small nuclear reactors to help Turkey to get nuclear weapons?

Fears over nuclear Turkey after Rolls Royce reactor deal, Morning Star, 

 MARCH 25, 2020   ENGINEERING firm Rolls-Royce has struck a deal with Turkey for the production of nuclear mini-reactors, sparking fears that the British company and its international consortium partners are helping pave the way for Ankara to develop a nuclear bomb…..

It is part of a consortium including BAM Nuttall, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Atkins and others. They will work together on designing the new power plant. ….

the plans have raised fears that Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could use the development as a step towards the country becoming a nuclear-armed power.

As previously reported in the Morning Star, Turkey’s secret nuclear programme includes plans to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), including nuclear missiles.

The plans have been given the green light by Mr Erdogan’s religious adviser Hayreddin Karaman, who provided not only his blessing for the government to acquire WMDs but also encouraged its leadership to do so.

Writing in a pro-government newspaper in 2017, Mr Karaman said: “We need to consider producing these weapons, rather than purchasing them, without losing any time and with no regard to words of hindrance from the West.”

There are already some 70 US-owned nuclear warheads said to be based at Incirlik airbase near the southern of Adana.

About 40 of these are thought to be under Turkish control, though details are patchy due to a lack of openness and transparency.

In previous deals with Russia and a Japanese-French consortium, the door was left open for the development of nuclear weapons after Turkey rejected offers to include the provision of uranium and the return of the spent fuel rods used in the reactors.

Ankara would be able to use its own low-enriched uranium and reprocess the fuel rods, producing its own enriched uranium for the development of nuclear weapons.

The development has parallels with the Indian missile capability developed after the testing of plutonium produced in the Canadian-supplied Cirus reactor, which first raised the issue that nuclear technology supplied for peaceful purposes could be diverted to weapons production. https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/fears-over-nuclear-turkey-after-rolls-royce-reactor-deal

March 28, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, Turkey, UK | Leave a comment

How will the IAEA spin the mind-boggling costs of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)?

IAEA launches project to examine economics of SMRs   https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/IAEA-launches-project-to-examine-economics-of-SMRs  26 March 2020,  he International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is launching a three-year Coordinated Research Project focused on the economics of small modular reactors (SMRs). The project will provide Member States with an economic appraisal framework for the development and deployment of such reactors.
The IAEA said it had launched the project in response to increased interest in SMRs, noting that multiple SMR projects are currently under development (involving about 50 designs and concepts) and at varying technology readiness levels. Their costs and delivery times need to be adequately estimated, analysed and optimised, it said. Specific business models have to be developed to address the market’s needs and expectations. The market itself should be large enough to sustain demand for components and industrial support services. However, the economic impact of SMR development and deployment must be quantified and communicated to gain societal support, it said.

Participants in the research project will cover: market research; analysis of the competitive landscape (SMR vs non-nuclear alternatives); value proposition and strategic positioning; project planning cost forecasting and analysis; project structuring, risk allocation and financial valuation; business planning and business case demonstration; and economic cost-benefit analysis.

The framework they establish will be applied, in particular, to assess the economics of multiples (serial production of reactors in a factory setting), factory fabrication (conditions to be met for a factory to exist), and supply chain localisation (opportunities and impacts).

The deadline for proposals to participate in the research project is 30 April.

In early 2018, the IAEA announced it was forming a Technical Working Group to guide its activities on SMRs and provide a forum for Member States to share information and knowledge. The group, comprising some 20 IAEA Member States and international organisations, held its first meeting in April that year.

March 28, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Military use: that is clearly the reason for developing Small Nuclear Reactors

If the testing goes well, a commercially developed, Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensed reactor will be demonstrated on a “permanent domestic military installation.
Pentagon awards contracts to design mobile nuclear reactor Defense News 
By: Aaron Mehta    March 9  WASHINGTON— The Pentagon on Monday issued three contracts to start design work on mobile, small nuclear reactors, as part of a two-step plan towards achieving nuclear power for American forces at home and abroad.

The department awarded contracts to BWX Technologies, Inc. of Virginia, for $13.5 million; Westinghouse Government Services of Washington, D.C. for $11.9 million; and X-energy, LLC of Maryland, for $14.3 million, to begin a two-year engineering design competition for a small nuclear microreactor designed to potentially be forward deployed with forces outside the continental United States.

The combined $39.7 million in contracts are from “Project Pele,” a project run through the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), located within the department’s research and engineering side. The prototype is looking at a 1-5 megawatt (MWe) power range. The Department of Energy has been supporting the project at its Idaho National Laboratory.

Pele “involves the development of a safe, mobile and advanced nuclear microreactor to support a variety of Department of Defense missions such as generating power for remote operating bases,” said Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a department spokesman. “After a two-year design-maturation period, one of the companies funded to begin design work may be selected to build and demonstrate a prototype.”…….

A second effort is being run through the office of the undersecretary of acquisition and sustainment. That effort, ordered in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, involves a pilot program aiming to demonstrate the efficacy of a small nuclear reactor, in the 2-10 MWe range, with initial testing at a Department of Energy site in roughly the 2023 timeframe.

If the testing goes well, a commercially developed, Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensed reactor will be demonstrated on a “permanent domestic military installation by 2027,” according to DoD spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews. “If the full demonstration proves to be a cost effective energy resilience alternative, NRC-licensed [reactors] will provide an additional option for generating power provided to DoD through power purchase agreements.”…….

According to Dr. Jonathan Cobb, a spokesman for the World Nuclear Association, small nuclear reactors come in three flavors. The first, small modular reactors, sit in the 20-300 MWe range and are approaching the point they will appear on market.

The second category sits from 10-100 megawatts, and have been used in transports such as icebreakers. According to Cobb, a pair of 32 MWe reactors, based on icebreaker technology, are being used aboard the Akademik Lomonosov, a Russian “floating power plant.”

The third category, covering what the Pentagon appears most interested in, is a category known as microreactors. The challenge, Cobb said, is that this group is the furthest behind technologically, with demonstrations of commercial systems targeted for “the second half of the 2020s,” putting them in the “ballpark” of what DoD is looking for with its A&S effort……

Edwin Lyman, director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, has concerns about the availability of fuel to power a proliferation of small nuclear reactors. He noted, “there are no clear plans for manufacturing the quantity of high-assay low enriched uranium, much less the production of high-quality TRISO [TRi-structural ISOtropic particle] fuel, that would be able to meet timelines this decade.”……

Lord, for her part, would not rule out working with foreign allies on the nuclear program in some way, saying “We always talk with our partners and allies about collaboration. We have many umbrella vehicles, if you will, to do that, particularly with [National Technology and Industrial Base] countries — U.K., Canada, Australia. We have a little bit of an easy button there for working back and forth with technical information.”…    https://www.defensenews.com/smr/nuclear-arsenal/2020/03/09/pentagon-to-award-mobile-nuclear-reactor-contracts-this-week/?fbclid=IwAR2MTkRUDqIkruQHY0RivblBzoSY6gubpl8gkWDUDhedVwZEGstJhHYLb6U#.XmawxEl-aJ0.facebook

 

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A ruse to save the nuclear industry? Dangerous, expensive portable mini-reactors

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Proponents of Small Nuclear Reactors need a reality check – about the STAGGERING COST

a reality check is in order. A handful of small reactors is under construction but they have been subject to huge cost overruns and delays. William Von Hoene, senior vice-president of Exelon ‒ the largest operator of nuclear power plants in the US ‒ says that no more large reactors will be built in the US and that the cost of small reactors is “prohibitive”.

Rolls-Royce sharply reduced its small-reactor investment to “a handful of salaries” in 2018 and is threatening to abandon its R&D altogether unless the British government agrees to an outrageous set of demands and subsidies.

March 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

And they say that small nuclear reactors do not have military applications

Pentagon awards contracts to design mobile nuclear reactor Defense News

By: Aaron Mehta   3/9/20 , WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Monday issued three contracts to start design work on mobile, small nuclear reactors, as part of a two-step plan towards achieving nuclear power for American forces at home and abroad.

The department awarded contracts to BWX Technologies, Inc. of Virginia, for $13.5 million; Westinghouse Government Services of Washington, D.C. for $11.9 million; and X-energy, LLC of Maryland, for $14.3 million, to begin a two-year engineering design competition for a small nuclear microreactor designed to potentially be forward deployed with forces outside the continental United States.

The combined $39.7 million in contracts are from “Project Pele,” a project run through the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), located within the department’s research and engineering side. The prototype is looking at a 1-5 megawatt (MWe) power range. The Department of Energy has been supporting the project at its Idaho National Laboratory…….

If the testing goes well, a commercially developed, Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensed reactor will be demonstrated on a “permanent domestic military installation by 2027,” according to DoD spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews. “If the full demonstration proves to be a cost effective energy resilience alternative, NRC-licensed [reactors] will provide an additional option for generating power provided to DoD through power purchase agreements.”

The best way to differentiate between the programs may be to think of the A&S effort as the domestic program, built off commercial technology, as part of an effort to get off of local power grids that are seen as weak targets, either via physical or cyber espionage. Pele is focused on the prototyping a new design, with forward operations in mind — and may never actually produce a reactor, if the prototype work proves too difficult…… https://www.defensenews.com/smr/nuclear-arsenal/2020/03/09/pentagon-to-award-mobile-nuclear-reactor-contracts-this-week/

March 10, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A sceptical look at NuScam’s small nuclear reactor plans

Recent experience supports skepticism. Westinghouse worked on an SMR design for a decade before giving up in 2014. Massachusetts-based Transatomic Power, a nuclear technology firm, walked away from a molten salt SMR in 2018, and despite an $111 million dollar infusion from the US government, a SMR design from Babcock & Wilcox, an advanced energy developer, folded in 2017. While the Russians have managed to get their state-funded SMR floating, its construction costs ran over estimates by four times, and its energy will cost about four times more than current US nuclear costs. 
Eventually, every nuclear conversation turns to radioactive waste and safety. SMRs using a pressurized water reactor will continue to generate highly radioactive spent fuel, yet no country has a permanent solution for how to safely store this kind of waste.  ……..
small modular reactors suffer from many of the same problems as large reactors, most notably safety issues
“It would be irresponsible for the NRC to reduce safety and security requirements for any reactor of any size.”

The Smaller Is Better Movement in Nuclear Power, Are miniature reactors really safer? Mother Jones  LOIS PARSHLEY, 8 Mar 20, 

Huge computer screens line a dark, windowless control room in Corvallis, Oregon, where engineers at the company NuScale Power hope to define the next wave of nuclear energy. Glowing icons fill the screens, representing the power output of 12 miniature nuclear reactors. Together, these small modular reactors would generate about the same amount of power as one of the conventional nuclear plants that currently dot the United States—producing enough electricity to power 540,000 homes. On the glowing screens, a palm tree indicates which of the dozen units is on “island mode,” allowing a single reactor to run disconnected from the grid in case of an emergency. 

This control room is just a mock-up, and the reactors depicted on the computer screens do not, in fact, exist. Yet NuScale has invested more than $900 million in the development of small modular reactor (SMR) technology, which the company says represents the next generation of nuclear power plants. NuScale is working on a full-scale prototype and says it is on track to break ground on its first nuclear power plant—a 720-megawatt project for a utility in Idaho—within two years; the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has just completed the fourth phase of review of NuScale’s design, the first SMR certification the commission has reviewed. The company expect final approval by the end of 2020. The US Department of Energy has already invested $317 million in the research and development of NuScale’s SMR project.

Continue reading

March 9, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors to fix climate change? IT’S A LIE ! – theme for March 2020

They depend on  long carbon -emitting chains of mining, transport, construction, and then demolition,  disposal of long lasting toxic radioactive trash.

Even if Small Nuclear Reactors did work against climate change (which they don’t) –  any such effect would require millions of them to be set up immediately.  Go figure.

March 7, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Christina's themes, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Busting the lies of the Australian Government about “new” nuclear reactors

The core propositions of non-traditional reactor proponents – improved economics, proliferation resistance, safety margins, and waste management – should be reevaluated.

Before construction of non-traditional reactors begins, the economic implications of the back end of these nontraditional fuel cycles must be analyzed in detail; disposal costs may be unpalatable………. reprocessing remains a security liability of dubious economic benefit

Non-traditional” is used to encompass both small modular light water reactors (Generation III+) and Generation IV reactors (including fast reactors, thermal-spectrum molten salt reactors, and high temperature gas reactors)

March 3, 2020 Posted by | politics, Reference, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

USA desperately pushing the fantasy of Small Nuclear Reactors to India

March 2, 2020 Posted by | India, marketing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

A Brief Study of Molten Salt Reactors

A Brief Study of Molten Salt Reactors  https://nonuclearpowerinaustralia.wordpress.com/2020/03/01/a-brief-study-of-molten-salt-reactors/  3 Mar 20

Source:
Burning waste or playing with fire? Waste management considerations for non-traditional reactors, Lindsay Krall &Allison MacfarlanePages 326-334 | Published online: 31 Aug 2018 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 74, 2018. Issue 5 at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00963402.2018.1507791?scroll=top&needAccess=true&journalCode=rbul20

Author information:

Lindsay Krall is a post-doctoral Macarthur fellow at the George Washington University Institute for International Science and Technology Policy. Her research focuses on policies for the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle, particularly as they pertain to radionuclide transport in the environment, systems and organizations for waste storage and disposal, and the long-term behavior of spent fuels from advanced reactors. Allison Macfarlane is Professor of Public Policy and International Affairs at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. She directs the school’s Institute for International Science and Technology Policy Program and is the former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Macfarlane was a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future from 2010-2012.

“Abstract:

Nuclear energy-producing nations are almost universally experiencing delays in the commissioning of the geologic repositories needed for the long-term isolation of spent fuel and other high-level wastes from the human environment. Despite these problems, expert panels have repeatedly determined that geologic disposal is necessary, regardless of whether advanced reactors to support a “closed” nuclear fuel cycle become available. Still, advanced reactor developers are receiving substantial funding on the pretense that extraordinary waste management benefits can be reaped through adoption of these technologies. Here, the authors describe why molten salt reactors and sodium-cooled fast reactors – due to the unusual chemical compositions of their fuels – will actually exacerbate spent fuel storage and disposal issues. Before these reactors are licensed, policymakers must determine the implications of metal- and salt-based fuels vis a vis the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and the Continued Storage Rule.” end quote.Emphasis added for clarity. Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Bernardi need to consider the scientific and technical reality behind the gloss they want to disseminate.

March 2, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

NuScale’s nuclear reactor looks suspiciously like an old design, (that melted down)

Why Does NuScale SMR Look Like a 1964 Drawing of Swiss Lucens Nuclear Reactor (which suffered a major meltdown in 1969)?
https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/why-does-nuscale-smr-look-like-a-1964-drawing-of-swiss-lucens-nuclear-reactor-which-suffered-a-major-meltdown-in-1969/
Whatever NuScale is, or is not, it clearly isn’t “new”. The Bible must have foreseen the nuclear industry when it said that there was no new thing under the sun. While there might be something new about it, certainly its scale is not. And, it seems mostly a remake of old military reactors, perhaps with influence from swimming pool reactors.

The main ancestor seems to be the US Army’s SM-1, made by the American Locomotive Company, making its most distant ancestor the steam locomotive.

Government subsidizes for NuScale are a deadly taxpayer rip rip-off. Even without an accident, nuclear reactors legally leak deadly radionuclides into the environment during the entire nuclear fuel chain, as well as when they are operating. Then, the nuclear waste is also allowed to leak for perpetuity.

The 1964 Lucens Design certainly looks like the one unit NuScale. Did MSLWR, now NuScale, take from Lucens or from an earlier common design ancestor?

NuScale 12 years ago when it was called MASLWR and still an official government project, 2003, INEEL/EXT-04-01626.

This is for single reactors. They want to clump them together.

Is there a common ancestor in either the US nuclear power station in Greenland or Antarctica? Actually, the main “parent” for the underground concept, according to the Swiss documentation, is underground hydroelectric power stations, dating from the 1800s. These caverns have been known to collapse, which, along with the WIPP collapse, points to another risk associated with underground nuclear reactors, besides leakage and corrosion.
being mostly in an underground cavern proved to be a liability rather than an asset for Lucens. The cavern leaked water and contributed to corrosion issues that ultimately led to nuclear meltdown.

Despite its tiny size, tinier than NuScale, it still is classified as a major nuclear accident. Furthermore, the cavern did not keep the nuclear fallout from escaping into the environment. There was 1 Sv (1000 mSv) per hour of
radiation in the cavern. Radiation was measured in the nearby village, and the cavern still leaks radiation. Continue reading

March 1, 2020 Posted by | Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Unjustified hype over non existent Small Nuclear Reactors

These new nuclear reactors are so far perfectly safe, because they exist only on paper and are cooled only by ink. But declaring them a success before they are even built is quite a leap of faith.
This current media hype about modular reactors is very reminiscent of the drumbeat of grandiose expectations that began around 2000, announcing the advent of a Nuclear Renaissance that envisaged thousands of new reactors — huge ones! — being built all over the planet.

Let’s call SMRs what they are, Leaving out “nuclear” doesn’t minimize the danger, or the cost https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2020/02/23/lets-call-smrs-what-they-are/By Gordon Edwards, Michel Duguay and Pierre Jasmin,  February 23, 2020, On Friday the 13th, September 2019, the St John Telegraph-Journal’s front page was dominated by what many gullible readers hoped will be a good luck story for New Brunswick  – making the province a booming and prosperous Nuclear Energy powerhouse for the entire world.

After many months of behind-the-scenes meetings throughout New Brunswick with utility company executives, provincial politicians, federal government representatives, township mayors and First Nations, two nuclear entrepreneurial companies laid out a dazzling dream promising thousands of jobs – nay, tens of thousands! – in New Brunswick, achieved by mass-producing and selling components for hitherto untested nuclear reactors called SMNRs (Small Modular Nuclear Reactors) which, it is hoped, will be installed around the world by the hundreds or thousands!

On December 1, the Saskatchewan and Ontario premiers hitched their hopes to the same nuclear dream machine through a dramatic tripartite Sunday press conference in Ottawa featuring the premiers of the provinces. The three amigos announced their desire to promote and deploy some version of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in their respective provinces. All three claimed it as a strategy to fight climate change, and they want the federal government to pledge federal tax money to pay for the R&D. Perhaps it is a way of paying lip service to the climate crisis without actually achieving anything substantial; prior to the recent election, all three men were opposed to even putting a price on carbon emissions.

Motives other than climate protection may apply. Saskatchewan’s uranium is in desperate need of new markets, as some of the province’s most productive mines have been mothballed and over a thousand uranium workers have been laid off, due to the global decline in nuclear power. Meanwhile, Ontario has cancelled all investments in over 800 renewable energy projects – at a financial penalty of over 200 million dollars – while investing tens of billions of dollars to rebuild many of its geriatric nuclear reactors. This, instead of purchasing surplus water-based hydropower from Quebec at less than half the cost.

Three previous “small reactor” failures in Canada so far

These new nuclear reactors are so far perfectly safe, because they exist only on paper and are cooled only by ink. But declaring them a success before they are even built is quite a leap of faith, especially in light of the three previous Canadian failures in this field of “small reactors”. Two 10-megawatt MAPLE reactors were built at Chalk River and never operated because of insuperable safety concerns, and the 10-megawatt “Mega-Slowpoke” district heating reactor never earned a licence to operate, again because of safety concerns. The Mega-Slowpoke was offered free of charge to two universities – Sherbrooke and Saskatchewan – and several communities, all of whom refused the gift. And a good thing too, as the only Mega-Slowpoke ever built (at Pinawa, in Manitoba) is now being dismantled without ever producing a single useful megawatt of heat.

This current media hype about modular reactors is very reminiscent of the drumbeat of grandiose expectations that began around 2000, announcing the advent of a Nuclear Renaissance that envisaged thousands of new reactors — huge ones! — being built all over the planet. That initiative turned out to be a complete flop. Only a few large reactors were launched under this banner, and they were plagued with enormous cost-over-runs and extraordinarily long delays, resulting in the bankruptcy or near bankruptcy of some of the largest nuclear companies in the world – such as Areva and Westinghouse – and causing other companies to retire from the nuclear field altogether – such as Siemens.

Speculation about that promised Nuclear Renaissance also led to a massive (and totally unrealistic) spike in uranium prices, spurring uranium exploration activities on an unprecedented scale. It ended in a near-catastrophic collapse of uranium prices when the bubble burst. Cameco was forced to close down several mines. They are still closed. The price of uranium has still not recovered from the plunge.

Large nuclear reactors have essentially priced themselves out of the market. Only Russia, China and India have managed to defy those market forces with their monopoly state involvements.  Nevertheless, the nuclear contribution to world electricity production has plummeted from 17 percent in 1997 to about 10 percent in 2018. In North America and Western Europe, the prospects for new large reactor projects are virtually nil, and many of the older reactors are shutting down permanently without being replaced.

During long construction times nuclear makes the climate problem worse

Many people concerned about climate change want to know more about the moral and ethical choices regarding low-carbon technologies: “Don’t we have a responsibility to use nuclear?”  The short reply is: nuclear is too slow and too expensive. The ranking of options should be based on what is cheapest and fastest — beginning with energy efficiency, then on to off-the-shelf renewables like wind and solar energy.

As a case in point, Germany installed over 30,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity in only 8 years, after deciding to close down all of its nuclear reactors by 2022. That is an impressive achievement – more than twice the total installed nuclear capacity of Canada. It would be impossible to build 30,000 megawatts of nuclear in only 8 years.

By building wind generators, Germany obtained some carbon relief in the very first year of construction, then got more benefit in the second year, even more benefit in the third, and so on, building up to a cumulative capacity of 30,000 MWe after 8 years. With nuclear, even if you could manage to build 30,000 megawatts in 8 years, you would get absolutely no benefit during that entire 8-year construction period.

In fact you would be making the problem worse by mining uranium, fabricating fuel, pouring concrete and building the reactor core and components, all adding to greenhouse gas emissions – earning no benefit until (and IF) everything is finally ready to function.

In the meantime (10 to 20 years), you will have starved the efficiency and renewable alternatives of the funds and political will needed to implement technologies that can really make an immediate and substantial difference.

In Saskatchewan, professor Jim Harding, who was director for Prairie Justice Research at University of Regina where he headed up the Uranium Inquiries Project, has offered his own reflection. Here is the conclusion of his December 2, 2019 comment:

In short, small reactors are another distraction from Saskatchewan having the highest levels of GHGs on the planet – nearly 70 metric tonnes per capita. While the rest of Canada has been lowering emissions, those here, along with Alberta with its high-carbon tar sands, have continued to rise. Saskatchewan and Alberta’s emissions are now almost equal to all the rest of Canada. Shame on us!

In the USA, engineers and even CEO’s of some of the leading nuclear companies are admitting that the age of nuclear energy is virtually over in North America. This negative judgment is not coming from people who are opposed to nuclear power, quite the opposite — from people lamenting the decline. See, for example, one major report from the Engineering faculty at Carnegie-Mellon University.

The SMR order book is filled with blank pages; there are no customers

That Carnegie-Mellon report includes Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in its analysis, without being any more hopeful for a nuclear revival on that account. The reason? It is mainly because a new generation of smaller reactors, such as those promised for New Brunswick, will necessarily be more expensive per unit of energy produced, if manufactured individually. The sharply increased price can be partially offset by mass production of prefabricated components; hence the need for selling hundreds or even thousands of these smaller units in order to break even and make a profit. However, the order book is filled with blank pages — there are no customers. This being the case, finding investors is not easy. So entrepreneurs are courting governments to pony up with taxpayers’ money, in the hopes that this second attempt at a Nuclear Renaissance will not be the total debacle that the first one turned out to be.

Over 150 designs and none built, tested, licensed or deployed

Chances are very slim however. There are over 150 different designs of “Small Modular Reactors”. None of them have been built, tested, licensed or deployed. At Chalk River, Ontario, a consortium of private multinational corporations, comprised of SNC-Lavalin and two corporate partners, operating under the name “Canadian Nuclear Laboratories” (CNL), is prepared to host six or seven different designs of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors — none of them being identical to the two proposed for New Brunswick – and all of these designs will be in competition with each other. The Project Description of the first Chalk River prototype Small Modular Reactor has already received over 40 responses that are posted on the CNSC web site, and virtually all of them are negative comments.

The chances that any one design will corner enough of the market to become financially viable in the long run is unlikely. So the second Nuclear Renaissance may carry the seeds of its own destruction right from the outset. Unfortunately, governments are not well equipped to do a serious independent investigation of the validity of the intoxicating claims made by the promoters, who of course conveniently overlook the persistent problem of long-lived nuclear waste and of decommissioning the radioactive structures. These wastes pose a huge ecological and human health problem for countless generations to come.

Finally, in the list of projects being investigated, one finds a scaled-down “breeder reactor” fuelled with plutonium and cooled by liquid sodium metal, a material that reacts violently or explodes on contact with air or water. The breeder reactor is an old project abandoned by Jimmy Carter and discredited by the failure of the ill-fated French SuperPhénix because of its extremely dangerous nature. In the event of a nuclear accident, the Tennessee Clinch River Breeder Reactor was judged capable of poisoning twelve American states and the SuperPhénix half of France.

One suspects that our three premiers are only willing to revisit these bygone reactor designs in order to obtain funding from the federal government while avoiding responsibility for their inaction on more sensible strategies for combatting climate changes – cheaper, faster and safer alternatives, based on investments in energy efficiency and renewable sources.

Gordon Edwards PhD, is President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. Michel Duguay, PhD, is a professor at Laval University. Pierre Jasmin, UQAM, is with Quebec Movement for Peace and Artiste pour la Paix.

 

February 24, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Japan’s paralysis over what to do with the nuclear industry’s plutonium wastes


Review the nation’s quest for a nuclear fuel cycle  
 https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/02/20/editorials/review-nations-quest-nuclear-fuel-cycle/#.XlBKh2gzbIU     The uncertain fate of the spent mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel removed from two nuclear power reactors in western Japan last month — for the first time since the commercial use of plutonium-uranium fuel in light water reactors began about a decade ago — is yet another sign of the stalemate over the government’s nuclear fuel cycle policy. While the government maintains that all spent nuclear fuel will be reprocessed for reuse as fuel for nuclear reactors, there are no facilities in this country that can reprocess spent MOX fuel so it will remain indefinitely in storage pools at the nuclear plants.

A reprocessing plant owned by Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. that is under construction in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, can only handle spent uranium fuel. No concrete plans have been made for building a second plant capable of reprocessing spent MOX fuel. Completion of the Rokkasho plant itself has been delayed for years amid an endless series of technical glitches resulting in huge cost overruns since construction began in the early 1990s. When the plant is completed and begins operating it will likely only add to Japan’s plutonium stockpile. This is because the use of plutonium in MOX fuel remains sluggish due to the slow restart of reactors idled following the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
Instead of shelving hard decisions on the nuclear fuel cycle policy any further, the government and the power industry need to candidly assess the prospects of the policy and proceed with a long-overdue review.
Under the policy that touts efficient use of uranium resources, fuel assemblies spent at nuclear power plants will be removed from the reactors to extract plutonium, which will be blended with uranium to make the MOX fuel. What were removed from the reactors at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata reactor in Ehime Prefecture and Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture in January are the MOX fuel rods that were installed in 2010. The government maintains that it’s technologically feasible to reprocess spent MOX fuel, but experts are doubtful about the efficiency of this practice.
Initially, the policy assumed a transition to fast-breeder reactors in Japan’s nuclear power generation. Touted to produce more plutonium than it consumes as fuel, a fast-breeder reactor was deemed a dream technology in this resource-scarce country. However, Monju, the nation’s sole prototype fast-breeder reactor — on which more than ¥1 trillion was spent — was decommissioned in 2016 after sitting idle for much of the time since it first went online in 1994 due to a series of accidents and troubles. The government sought to continue research on next-generation fast reactors in a joint project with France, but that bid has been in limbo since Paris decided to substantially scale back the project in light of the abundance of  uranium resources, which cast doubts over its economic feasibility.
As completion of the reprocessing plant in Rokkasho continues to be pushed back, some 15,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel is stored at nuclear power plants across Japan. Combined with 3,000 tons kept in the storage pool at the Rokkasho plant, the total comes to around 18,000 tons. The volume will only increase if more reactors are restarted without the launch of the reprocessing plant, and the capacity of storage pools at power plants is limited.
On the other hand, Japan is under pressure to utilize its 45-ton stockpile of plutonium as fuel due to proliferation concerns. As the Monju project went nowhere, the government and the power industry have pursued the use of MOX fuel in conventional light water reactors since around 2010. However, the use of MOX fuels has remained slow following the shuttering of most of the nation’s nuclear plants after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Currently, MOX fuel is used in only four reactors across the country — far below the 16 to 18 planned prior to the Fukushima accident. There are also doubts about the economic viability of the use of MOX fuel, which is more costly than conventional nuclear fuel.
It seems clear that the nuclear fuel cycle policy is stuck in a stalemate, but neither the government nor the power industry will accept that — apparently because abandoning the program would seriously impact nuclear energy policy. An alternative to reprocessing is to bury the spent fuel deep underground — a method reportedly adopted in some countries. But then the spent fuel — which has so far been stored as a resource to be processed for reuse — will be turned into nuclear waste, raising the politically sensitive question of where to dispose of it. That, however, is a question that cannot be averted given Japan’s use of nuclear power. It should not be used as an excuse for maintaining the quest for the elusive nuclear fuel cycle. It’s time to review the policy.

February 22, 2020 Posted by | Japan, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Desperate nuclear industry hypes up unlikely new gimmick, HALEU nuclear fuel

The World’s Tiniest Nuclear Plant Is Coming to Idaho, The demonstration represents a new-generation of micro-reactors.  Popular Mechanics, Feb 21, 2020 “…… 

  • experts suggest that Oklo’s timeline is unrealistic with years of nuclear approval process ahead…….
  • In December, Oklo received a permit to begin building their new Aurora plant, which is the first and only permit ever issued in the U.S. to a nuclear plant using something other than a light water (“water-cooled”) reactor. The specific mix of fuel they plan to use is called HALEU for short: “High-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) …..
  • There are big obstacles in Oklo’s way, though. Their planned timeline, which Grist says is to open between 2022 and 2025—after just receiving a permit in December 2019—would be one of the shortest in U.S. nuclear power history. For the first-of-its-kind commercial, HALEU-fueled fast breeder reactor, this seems optimistic, to say the least.

February 22, 2020 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment